WASHINGTON — Production of straight semolina and durum flour by U.S. mills in January-March totaled 8,266,000 cwts, up 1% from 8,188,000 in the first quarter of 2009, according to the Bureau of the Census of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Semolina production in the first 2010 quarter also increased 11.5% from 7,411,000 in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The North American Millers’ Association provides funding to the Census Bureau in support of the compilation of these statistics.

Production of durum semolina in January-March 2009 was the 15th largest for any quarter and ranked eighth for the first quarter alone.

Beginning in 2000, semolina output data are not fully comparable with prior years.

Grind of durum wheat in January-March 2010 totaled 18,293,000 bus, up 1.7% from 17,983,000 in the first quarter of 2009. It also was up 6.1% from 17,246,000 in the fourth quarter.

Based on these data, semolina extraction in January-March averaged 75.3%, against 71.6% in October-December and 75.9% in the first quarter of 2009.

In the current report, the Census Bureau lists the 24-hour plant capacity of U.S. durum mills at 136,000 cwts, up 1,000 from October-December and 4,000 above 132,000 in the first quarter of 2009. Census Bureau data suggest durum mills in January-March operated at 80% of six-day capacity, up from 71.3% in October-December but below 81.6% in the first quarter of 2009.